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Full text of "An appeal to the Christian public, of the inconsistency of war with the Gospel dispensation"

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AN APPEAL ^S| 




I THE CHRISTIAN PUBLIC, 1 



—ON THK— 



Inconsistency of War 



WITH THE— 



GOSPEL DISPENSATION, 



"SOCIETY OF FRIENDS," 



IN CANADA. 



NEWMARKET: 

Phjntrk at thk "Nkwmahket Eba" Book and Job Office, Main 8t. 




18 69 



B^&gnfegO&feK^^ 



AN APPEAL 

TO THE CHEISTIAN PUBLIC, 

ON" THE 

Inconsistency of War with the Gospel Dispensation, 

—BY THE- 

SOCIETY OP FRIENDS IN CANADA, 



o 



AT A M E ETI N G 

F the Representatives of the Eeligious Society of Friends, in 
in the Province of Ontario, Dominion of Canada, under a 
solemn sense of our Responsibility, as professed Christians, 
to advocate the cause of our glorified Captain — the great 
Prince of Peace, we feel constrained in the love of Christ, 
to lay before the christian public the following 

APPEAL : 

Christian Friends, — 

The great question of "whether carnal warfare can be 
reconciled with the principles and spirit of the christian religion,'* 
should, and, may we not hope, is claiming, the serious attention 
of the christian world. If we view the subject only in its financial 
relations, a deep consideration of it is well worthy of the profound 
attention not only of the christian, but of the statesman and the 
philanthropist. The celebrated Thomas Dick says: — "Had the 
money which has been expended even by professed christian 
nations during the past century, in the madness of warfare, been 
expended for philanthropic purposes, it would have been sufficient 
to have cultivated all the wastes of our globe, and to have made 
' the wilderness to blossom as the rose;' " Isaiah chap. 35 ; ver. 1. 



I \A 



1229 



AN APPEAL 



It is a fact with which every student of history is familiar, that 
nearly all nations, more particularly those called christian, are at 
this moment groaning under the heavy burden of national indebt- 
edness, which has been the accumulation of years, and is admit- 
tedly, to a great extent, the consequence of a preparation for, or 
engagement in, actual warfare; although a large majority of those 
interested, may be as infatuated as ever, upon the subject of 
military operations, and as willing as their predecessors to 
increase those burdens by augmenting the national liabilities, for 
these questionable purposes, under the mistaken notion of patriot- 
ism and duty. Yet, it can scarcely 6e doubted, but that the time 
will come when those grievous pecuniary burdens will be viewed 
from a different stand-point ; and will then be regarded as a 
melancholy evidence of the folly and Anti-Christian usages of a 
by-gone age. 

It surely is a lamentable consideration, that while the public 
funds are doled out with a parsimonious hand, (comparatively 
speaking,) to feed the poor — clothe the naked — raise the humbler 
classes of all nations from ignorance and its oft consequent effects, 
crime, and fit them for their several duties, as peaceful and law- 
abiding citizens of the State, that the same funds are not only 
spent with a liberal hand, but even in reckless profusion, to teach 
a professedly christian population the most complete mode of 
human slaughter. Now, we solemnly appeal to the purer feelings 
of every spiritual christian, who must believe the truth of the 
apostolic declaration, that "God is love:" 1st John ,chap. 4; 16 
ver., and ask him to query with himself whether the present 
course of the nations of the earth in their efforts to cultivate a 
military spirit is at all in harmony with the professed spirit of the 
boasted christian civilization of this enlightened time ? or whether 
it is not a retrograde movement more in accordance with the bar- 
barous usages of a by-gone age, where an Alexander was said to 
weep because he had no more worlds to conquer, and when the 
highest ambition of the most refined heathen ruler was to make 
every man a soldier ? We respectfully ask attention for a moment 
to the position of a soldier, presuming that individual responsibility 
to the Great Supreme will be freely conceded : and in view of that 
responsibility, how is it possible for any man to pledge himself, by 
oath or otherwise, to yield unreserved obedience to the will of 
another ; and as military discipline requires this indisputable obedi- 
ence, and as military operations could not successfully be carried' 
on without it, does it not plainly follow that when a professed 
christian becomes a soldier he makes a deliberate attempt to 
achieve a Scriptural impossibility? viz: — that of serving two- 
masters. — Matthew, chap. 6 ; ver. 24. 



AN APPEAL 



In looking more particularly at the moral aspect of the ques- 
tion, strange as it may appear, we find even the professed christian 
portion of the world, divided in sentiment. While on the one 
hand it is claimed that God only works by means, and that he 
would fail to protect us though we should wholly rely upon him if 
we did not make every possible effort to defend ourselves, when 
in the language of Paley, " an injury was perpetrated, attempted or 
feared." On the other hand it is claimed that war, under every 
circumstance, is Anti-Christian and inexpedient : that a govern- 
ment established upon the only proper basis— the basis of Christi- 
anity, and conducted under the benign influence of its pure and 
peaceable spirit, will need no other protection than the guardian- 
ship of the Supreme Euler of the world. 

The attentive observer will not marvel at this diversity of 
sentiment, more especially when he calls to mind, that what has 
happened may again transpire, " and as the leaders of the people 
once caused them to err:" Isaiah, chap. 9; ver. 16, even so now in 
reference to the subject before us, may we not trace the errors in 

Sublic sentiment, not only to the cause of many ministers of the 
ospel, but to the melancholy fact that some of those professedly 
delegated shepherds of the flock are actually found defending the 
practice, and encouraging their brethren to engage in its bloody 
work. Some of us can call to mind a lamentable illustration of 
this truth, during the time of the Crimean war. On a certain 
occasion, while the allied armies lay before Sebastopol. a prominent 
minister of a highly respected christian church, delivered a public 
lecture, in which he undertook to defend the anomalous doctrine 
that the meek and devoted followers of the Prince of Peace might 
justly engage in war; and as the present one was, he assured 
them, altogether justifiable, that christians ought to pray for its 
onward progress. Said lecture was published for general circula- 
tion, as would appear, under the sanction of the church itself. 
"VVe can scarcely divest ourselves of the belief that this unfortunate 
state of the case arises mainly from the want of a candid inquiry 
into the Scriptural grounds of the question. This belief is further 
strengthened by the course too generally pursued by the clergy of 
the United States, during the late civil war. They no doubt 
greatly encouraged the combatants on both sides, not only bv 
their prayers and exhortations, but some of them engaged in the 
service, and became active combatants themselves; and if reports 
say true soon shared the leavening influence of the School in which 
they were being instructed. "Know ye not," says the Apostle, 
"that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump:" Galatians, chap, 
5 ; ver. 9 : thereby clearly proving that the camp and battle-field 
are not the most eligible places to cultivate the graces of the spirit. 



AN APPEAL 



We claim that it is matter of historical record, that in the first 
and purest ages of the christian church, its votaries did not bear 
arms. They evidently considered it no part of their business to 
slaughter each other, or even to learn the Art. Like as they pro- 
fessed to be the followers of the Prince of Peace, and felt it to be 
their bounden duly, faithfully, to follow his self-denying unresist- 
ing example, they knew he had commanded them not only to love 
one another but even their enemies: Matt. chap. 5 ; ver. 44: and 
that if they would be his friends, they must " obey his commands ;" 
John, chap. 15; ver. 14. They prayed for their sovereign; but 
took no part in his wars. They declared that the Saviour, by 
disarming Peter, had disarmed every soldier; and that since that 
time, it had been unlawful for christians to fight, because the 
prophecy had been fulfilled and the time had arrived when the 
people of God "should not learn war any more:" Micah, chap. 4; 
ver. 3. They evidently took the same view of the origin of war 
that the Apostle did when he queried — " From whence come wars 
and fightings among you ? come they not hence even of your 
lusts that war in your numbers?" James chap. 4; ver. 1. We 
trust that it will be freely conceded, that the Holy Scriptures tell 
us that the time will arrive " when they shall not hurt nor destroy 
in all my holy mountain," and "the earth shall be full of the 
knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea:" Isaiah, chap. 
11 ; ver. 9 : and then "he will break the bow and the sword and 
the battle out of the earth :" Hosca, chap. 2 ; ver. 18. Observation 
also enables us to believe it to be the general sentiment of chris- 
tians, that at that period the pacific character of Gospel times, as 
delineated by the Lord's prophets, will be fully displayed, when 
he to whom the Psalmist referred, when he said — "Thy throne, 
O God is forever and ever, the sceptre of thy kingdom is a light 
sceptre:" Psalms 45; ver. 6. The Prince of Peace will establish 
the universality of his kingdom, and his sovereignty be unreserv- 
edly acknowledged, when the church as the Jight of the world, 
will more visibly appear in all its beauty and power — " Fair as the 
moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners:" 
Song of Solomon, chap. 6 ; ver. 10 : or, when being represented as 
a king's daughter, she shall "be all glorious within, and her 
clothing (or external appearance will be comparable to) wrought 
gold :" Psalms 45 ; ver. 13, And as the prayers of the church are 
daily offered at the throne of Grace, that the great Disposer of 
events will be pleased to hasten that happy period, we ask in 
common candor, are these prayers offered in faith ? and if so, what 
is the nature and character of that faith ? Is it a living faith in 
the power and efficacy of the Gospel that will exert its leavening 
influence upon the corrupt nature of fallen man until all is brought 



AN APPEAL 



into harmony with the pure and peaceful character of its Divine 
Author — a "faith that works by love, and purifies the heart:*' 
Galatians, chap. 5; ver. 6: and Acts, chap. 15; ver. 9. Or must 
we regard these prayers as prompted by il more historical faith, 
and therefore dead — arising out of the vague notion that these 
things must he accomplished because they are predicted by the 
spirit of prophecy without having any intelligent views as to how 
they are to be completed, or without striving to exercise a living, 
practical, experimental faith in the power of the Gospel of the 
Lord Jesus, it being the last dispensation of God to man, where is 
to be found ample provision for all his needs and which is that 
alone that will ever be found to be the healer of breaches and the 
restorer of man to his primeval state " when the morning stars 
sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy:" Job, chap, 
38; ver. 7. "When in every place incense shall be otfered to his 
Holy name a pure offering:" Malachi, chap, 1; ver. 11. 

We declare our conviction, that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ 
alone which will renovate the world, and that we are not warrant? 
ed in expecting any other Gospel, or, in looking for any new or 
marvellous display of Divine power to usher in the golden age of 
the Church, which christians have been apparently expecting for 
eighteen centuries. 

And here we would ask, if there is not a serious clanger 
that christians, in reference to this important point, may be found 
occupying similar ground with the Jews of old, respecting the 
advent of the blessed Saviour. They believed in his coming, and 
that the time had nearly arrived when he should appear — were 
daily looking for him, and no doubt daily pra}dng for the auspi- 
cious event; and although every circumstance conspired to bear 
testimony to his claim as being, He that should come, yet they 
refused to receive him, or listen to his highly instructive messages 
of love, which he so freely offered for their consideration. 

The christian church is also looking for a second advent, 
when it is expected his peaceable Kingdom will be established; 
and it is a serious question, whether upon this subject the views 
of its members are not too outward and carnal, and hence fail 
sufficiently to recognize, the great Gospel truth that the Kingdom 
of God is within — "that it cometh not with observation," Luke 
17 chap., 20 ver., " but with power," 1st Corinthians, 4 chap. 20 ver., 
"that it does not consist in meat and drink, but righteousness and 
peace and joy in the Holy Ghost," Komans, 14 chap., 17 ver. — 
And that as citizens of that Spiritual Kingdom, Christians are 
bound to render implicit obedience to all the laws, by which it is 
governed. We have plainly unfolded in the Scriptures of truth, a 
code of the most sublime doctrines and purest ethics ever delivered 



fe A N A P P E A L . 

to man, bearing evident stamp of their Divine origin, having the 
seal of the great King and only lawgiver and rightful head and 
ruler of his people. We find them throughout inculcating this 
undeniable truth that God is love and that they only are his people 
who dwell in love. 

Wo may draw instruction from the fact that the advocates of 
war though professedly christian, depend almost exclusively for 
its defence on the Jewish Scriptures. They wisely refrain from 
any lahoured attempt to make the Prince of Peace, or his inspired 
apostles, the abettors of war. They, however, generally refer to 
two passages in the New Testament as a kind of negative testimo- 
ny in their favour. We trust these will be found, after a candid 
investigation to give no countenance to such a doctrine. The fact 
that the Saviour accepted the faith of the Roman Centurion with- 
out noticing his profession, no more proves that he approved of war, 
than his silence in reference to his idolatory, proves that his dis- 
pensation admits the worship of idols. As to the language of the 
Baptist, had he directly approved of war, it would have had no 
bearing on the duties of the christian, because he only lived 
during the old dispensation and we might naturally suppose that 
his teachings would be in harmony therewith. This was not the 
christian system : he only predicted it to be near at hand. It 
however appears difficulty to see in what way he approved of 
war, or how that universally acknowledged evil could be pur- 
sued under his instructions. True, he did not directly declare 
against the military system; but he assuredly prohibited its practice 
when he charged the soldiers to "do violence to no man," Luke, 
3 chap., 14 ver. 

Probably Paley offered a sufficient explanation in reference 
to the course pursued by the followers of our Lord on this question, 
which says, — "Christianity soliciting admission into the various 
portions of the earth " abstained, as behoved it, from meddling with 
the civil institutions of any," but does it follow from the silence 
of scripture on the subject that all the existing institutions, were 
good, or that the bad should not be exchanged for the better. — 
We trust it will be admitted that the most learned casuist would 
labour in vaiq, should he attempt to show in what way a successful 
campaign could be conducted on christian principles, or in 
accordance wjth the teachings of the Baptist. Surely he would 
not recommend that an army, on the eve of a battle, should be 
charged "to do violence to no man," nor would he recommend that 
their thirst for blood should be lessened, by teaching them "to 
love their enemies," Matthew, 5 chap., 39 and 44, vers., and 
Rom. 12, 2 ver., to give them food and drink, and above all "to 
resist not evil." The truth in this case will best appear by adopt- 



AN APPEAL 



ing the rational conclusion of Wellington, when he significantly 
said " that no man with any nice sense of religion had any busi- 
ness in the army." It remains to be the settled conviction of the 
society of Friends that all wars are not only anti-christian and 
inexpedient, but wholly impolitic and unnecessary ; and that should 
an honest effort be made by any of the great powers of Europe or 
America to establish an international court, clothed with ample 
powers to take cognizance of all national disputes, such an effort, 
so in harmony with the principles of Christianity and philanthropy 
must inevitably be crowned with success. 

We would here suggest that no christian ought to engage in 
any work or calling on which he cannot in sincsrity of faith, ask 
the blessing of God. In view of this fact, we ask the reader 
mentally to visit one of those horrifying scenes presented by a 
battle field at the close of a stubbornly contested engagement. — ' 
We do not wish to bring to his view any of those sanguinary 
conflicts once waged between Greece and Persia, or Eome and 
Carthage, bloody and repulsive as they are recorded in history, 
these being the work of the heathen and comparative barbarian ; 
nor yet, to the more modern battles of Wellington and Napoleon. 
Neither to those dreadful slaughters in the Crimea, at the account 
of which the ear was pained and the soul sick with the daily 
report ; but we will draw attention to one of those revolting scenes 
presented in the late civil war, among our neighbours, brethren 
of the same household of faith, worshippers professedly of the* 
same G-od of love. Take for instance the battle of Getteysburg : 
can we suppose that any sane man can possibly believe that what 
is represented, as being there presented to the view of the beholder, 
could be the work of christian brethren, when the dead and 
dying were spread in dread confusion over the bloody field, when 1 ' 
human beings originally created in the Divine image designed to' 
reflect the glory of God and to be his ministers in works of mercy' 
and benevolence, when those for whom a Savour bled and' died,- 
lay wounded and slaughtered by hundreds and thousands in ! every 
conceivable form — when the groans and shrieks emanating from 
these mutilated forms of humanity, were enough to melt the most 
stony hearts, and then tell us, can such be the fruit of our Holy 
Religion, the Religion of Jesus ? Can any one believe that such 
work was ever perpetrated by the true followers of Christ? " Ye 
shall know them by their fruits, do men gather grapes of thorns, 
or figs of thistles," Matthew, chap. 7, 16 ver. u By this shall all 
men know that ye are my desciples, if ye have love one to another," 
John chap. 13, 35 ver. "His servants ye are to whom ye yield ; 
yourselves servants to obey," Rom. chap. 6, 16 ver. And "every' 
tree is known by its fruits," Matthew chap. 12, ver. 33, 



8 A N A P P E A 1, 



The follower of Mahomet may indeed appear consistent when 
supplicating for aid, because, it is said, that his religion constantly 

{iresents to the view of his mind, that such work will heighten' 
lis enjoyment and promote his welcome to his sensual paradise ; 
but can the humble christian, whose God is love, and whose only 
Meditator is the Prince of Peace — can such, we say, become so 
engrossed in darkness as to make himself believe that his good 
spirit will help and instruct him to pray for the consummation of 
such a barbarous and bloody work? In conclusion we may add, 
it will doubtless plainly appear, that we have not, attempted to 
bring any considerable portion of the evidence which might be 
adduced against the practice of war. This important subject has, 
at different times, been ably handled by men pre-eminent for 
education, philanthropy and piety; among whom we find Eras- 
mus, Watson, Fox, Wesley, Dymond, Clurney, ITpham, and 
others, to whose works on the subject we respectfully refer the 
reader. 

Our object at present is not to argue the question, but simply 
to endeavor to arouse public attention to the subject, and if 
possible, to enlist the sympathy and influence of a christian' 
people; but more especial \y the powerful influence of all gospel- 
ministers, to help to impress upon the public mind the enormity 
of the evils of war, that these may, in a peculiar manner, have a 
claim to the blessing promised to the peacemakers, by endeavor- 
ing to bring about that great event promised in the Bible, looked 
for by the church, and daily asked for in the prayers of its 
individual members ; a day in which the sword shall cease to 
devour — when the " battle of the warrior is with confused noise, 
and garments rolled in blood shall no longer be known ;" Isaiah, 
chap. 9, 5th verse. " When they shall beat their swords into 
plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks ; nation shall not 
lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any 
more ;" Isaiah, chap. 2, 4th verse. " When violence shall no 
more be heard in our land, wasting nor distraction within our 
borders ; but we shall call our walls salvation and our gates 
praise ;" Isaiah, chap. 60, 18th verse. 



Signed, on behalf and by direction of a meeting of the Representatives 
of the Religious Society of Friends, of the Yearly Meeting of 
Canada, held at Pickering, Province of Ontario, Dominion of 
Canada, the 23rd and 2Uh of 2nd month, 1869. 



IEA CLAEK, Clerk